Are 'invisible networks' the next stage of connectivity?

Are 'invisible networks' the next stage of connectivity?

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A new initiative that aims to take the focus away from speed and prioritise the creation of more reliable, consistent connectivity has been launched to improve the quality of networking experiences offered to users.

Called Broadband Quality Experience Delivered (Broadband QED), the scheme is the work of the Broadband Forum and will primarily be delivered by Vodafone and Predictable Network Solutions, two of the organisation's oldest members, with other firms also stepping in to assist in their areas of expertise.

The goal of the project will not be to increase the speed of networks, but to look at ways of improving latency, predictability, consistency and reliability.

It will use Quality Attenuation to look beyond data transfer rates and gain better insight into overall quality of services and outcomes. Quality Attenuation is a framework for capturing, measuring, managing and manipulating the performance aspects of networks, as well as the services they enable.

Gavin Young, head of Vodafone's Fixed Access Centre of Excellence, said that while work to increase the speed of broadband connectivity to 1Gbps and beyond is a "remarkable achievement", it is now time for the industry to look beyond speed.

"Historically, we have looked at data rate and ping time but now, as new applications place more strain on networks, we need to make the network invisible so users don't even know it is there - we want to get to a place where everything just works," he said.

Mr Young added that by focusing on aspects such as latency, consistency, predictability and reliability, users around the world will ultimately be able to move from a fast network to an "invisible network".

Geoff Burke, chief marketing office at the Broadband Forum, said the renewed focus on network quality of experience highlights his organisation's commitment to ensuring global networks are ready for new trends, such as 5G and connected devices.

He added: "Broadband QED is an excellent initiative, which marks a significant turning point for broadband as operators begin to turn their attention from speed to other elements of connectivity to create a world-class broadband experience for their customers."

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